Thursday, 28 November 2013

Ex-pats and the stiff upper lip

Wonderful! As someone who spent so much of her life in British Army overseas postings this makes me feel almost proud...

Q and A session

At least we've got the Archdruid to answer all our deepest (?) questions about life, the universe and the C of E's (ahem) position on these matters. Enjoy!

Pilling- initial thoughts

It's been a long day today and I've had about 20  minutes to skim read  the Pilling report and form some thoughts. So the following may turn out to be completely wrong! For what it is worth:

- Overall, Pilling's recommendations, if adopted, would be a positive step for any LGBT people in same sex relationships who remain in the Church (and why, oh why  anyone in that position is still there sometimes puzzles me...)

-Thank God, and I mean that fervently, that it recommends there should be no "intrusive questioning" about the sex lives of clergy in same sex relationships. THANK YOU- let's hope this sensible recommendation is adopted. Questioning clergy in civil partnerships about the exact nature of that relationship is clearly cruel and bullying, not to mention surely being a toe-curlingly embarrassing task  for any bishop with half a grain of decency.

-If I've read rightly, Pilling recommends that the blessing of same sex relationships (something which does already happen in parts of the Church) is now acknowledged and permitted. However, it steers clear of anything that would smack of an official sanctioning (such as a formal liturgy of blessing) for same sex relationships.It seems to recommend that  stable, permanent, committed same sex relationships should only be half-recognised (if that) by the Church - that positive pastoral support should be tolerated and allowed. To me this is rather half hearted, but I can't imagine anything  more than this given the situation and context  of the Church and the bitter divisions.

-The word "bitter" brings me to my last reflection, which is a fear  that this report, which at the moment is just that, a report, an analysis of the different thinking and tensions and  a set of recommendations for a way forward, will provoke strong opposition from some conservative elements, more in-fighting between different factions, and the type of language and behaviour which is far from Christ like. Let's hope it doesn't!

Finally the Pilling report is very long and once again you find yourself wondering  if we really  need to expend so  many words and so much energy on this issue.

 Perhaps we should just go back to Wordless Wednesday?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday, if you don't know already, is a trend among some bloggers to simply post a great photo or picture on Wednesday and let it speak for itself. I don't have a great photo, but I have blogged before about this wonderful depiction of our waiting in Advent.
Sometimes it is well worth just looking at an image and thinking about what it says without words:
For more thoughts on the power of silence, I give you the Advent thoughts from the i-Benedictine blog.

Monday, 25 November 2013

God and sinners reconciled

Next Sunday is the start of Advent and yesterday was Christ the King. In the meeting yesterday quite a few people spoke, more so than usual, and many of the themes, or so it seemed to me, circled around the ideas of the power of reconciliation over revenge. I found this striking as I had been thinking about Advent, which is perhaps my favourite season in the Church's calendar, and how the Incarnation speaks to us of reconciliation- of God coming to earth to be with us and to reconcile us to Himself and to each other. Reconciliation is also a key feature of the Kingdom of God. It is a Kingship and Kingdom not based on this world's values of power or of self seeking but rather of the impulse of sympathy towards the other, of giving and not taking.
We so badly need to learn the impulse of reconciliation toward God and towards each other, and perhaps we are called to repent in Advent because of our constant failure to live up to this selfless ideal.  I thought of speaking about Advent during the meeting but I kept silent instead. I felt enough had been said and something I am learning is that silence is often better than words. Words do have their place though and, in the Advent video above, words, music and image combine wonderfully to create the meaning of Advent for me.
If you follow the Celtic calendar then Advent is forty days long and so mirrors Lent that other period of repentance and reflection- so wishing you a blessed Advent for next week, or for now!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Do dogs have souls? (part twenty-two)

OK, maybe I am  getting very old and sentimental, or maybe I'm just feeling a bit vulnerable at the moment, but this one made me blub.  It pushes all the buttons for those of us who believe that dogs have souls. If only every sad story had this sort of happy ending...

Saturday, 2 November 2013

To seek and save

The encounter between Jesus and  Zacchaeus is one which appeals to the imagination and emotions as well as further illuminating that ongoing message of grace and transformation which runs through the gospels. It is fascinating to see the way that individuals seek out Christ- some trying to  unobtrusively touch the hem of his garment, some finding him in a chance encounter at a well, some seeking him out at night when nobody will be there to see them. Zacchaeus climbs up a tree, and this act represents his contradictory feelings about the approach of Jesus. On the one hand, Zacchaeus just has to see Jesus more clearly without crowds in his way the and his impulsive act suggests the strength of his desire to seek God; on the other hand, his climbing of a tree might also suggest the way that he is also keeping a safe distance and remaining on the margins- and seeing as he was a tax gatherer, the margins were undoubtedly where he felt he belonged.
 The crowd certainly felt the same. When Zacchaeus is called down from the tree and given a central role in the story there are grumblings and a sense of the unfairness of it all. Once again the bestowing of grace is surprising and extravagant; Jesus does not even give  Zacchaeus a good telling off , he wants to come to his house and eat with him- both an honour and one of the most basic acts of human contact and good will. Zacchaeus's joyful response is endearing. He comes down "at once" and welcomes Jesus "gladly" or "with great joy." It is now clear that Zacchaeus's climb represented his receptiveness and desire to not just see but to know Jesus. Although Zacchaeus is the host in this story, he is also the person who is being invited to the Kingdom of God and welcomed home.
 Zacchaeus also decides to give his money away and repay people four time over and his does this with his characteristic enthusiasm. It all smacks of a man who climbed up a tree to try to catch a glimpse of something he wants, and who can't believe his luck that he has been called down and given more than he would have ever thought possible.